Lt. Col. Gordon Helm, Destiny Bain, Lt. Kelli Hammit and Maj. Randy Hammit

From left, Lt. Col. Gordon Helm, Destiny Bain, Lt. Kelli Hammit and Maj. Randy Hammit have an enlightening conversation after the Hammits were awarded the Silver Medal of Valor, the highest honor the Civil Air Patrol can give.

Maj. Randy Hammit and Lt. Kelli Hammit received the Silver Medal of Valor on May 20, a year after their heroic efforts saved visitors during the Westgate Entertainment District mass shooting.

Randy and a visiting friend were hoping to smoke cigars at Westgate, when the night quickly turned into one of the scariest and most eventful of their lives. 

As they were headed there from Randy’s Westgate-area apartment, they heard gunshots. Moments later, businesses and restaurants went dark as the shooter hit a power transformer. Reality then set in: The two were witnessing a mass shooting. 

Hammit and his friend immediately retreated and dialed 911.

They sought shelter near what was a boba tearoom, where they discovered Alfredo Jaime, 19, with a wound to his chest lying in the street and Destiny Bain, 16, crying for help with a lower leg injury. 

From there, Hammit and his friend sprang into action to help save the teens, even though danger loomed. Hammit took off his belt and used it as a tourniquet to control Bain’s bleeding.

While applying pressure to Bain’s wound, Hammit received a call from his wife, Kelli, who heard the shots from their apartment complex and was concerned when the power went out. 

All she heard on the phone was “Stay with me.” Concerned, Kelli ran to her husband and friend. After arriving on the scene, she noticed the carnage. She thought Jaime was dead.

The registered nurse was wrong. She immediately began applying pressure to his chest with her bare hands until the authorities arrived. 

A police officer provided the couple with a first-aid kit, which they used to bandage Bain’s leg. Another officer followed with a combat action tourniquet to use on Bain. 

Paramedics didn’t arrive until 20 minutes after the teens were shot. Jaime and Bain have since recovered physically from the attack. 

“When I was on the floor begging and pleading for someone to come through, they were the only people who came around the corner to help me,” Bain said with tears streaming down her face during the ceremony. “Nobody else did anything other than stop and stare at me or take out their phones to record me.

“To know that the shooter was still out there and that all they could think about was to stop the bleeding in my leg, that meant a lot to me.”

The Hammits’ heroic efforts exemplified their character. 

The Hammits have touched base with Bain’s mom at least once a month since her daughter’s traumatic night at the Westgate Entertainment District to see if she needs anything. Bain loves to read, so they gave her money to buy books.

The Hammits were nominated for and have now received the Silver Medal of Valor, which is the highest honor that a member of the Civil Air Patrol can receive. It has been awarded fewer than 150 times in the branch’s history. 

The couple heard they won the award in November 2020, but the pandemic delayed the official ceremony until in-person events felt safer. 

It just so happened to fall on the tragedy’s one-year anniversary. 

“I’ve had lots of awards in my life, but this one is the most special,” Randy said. “It’s for saving a life, and I’d never done that before.” 

For Kelli, the award goes beyond just being an honor.

“For me it’s a little overwhelming, mostly because as I’ve learned about what this award means and how historic it is, there’s a little bit of a responsibility for winning an award like that,” she said. 

For a year, the Hammits haven’t stopped thinking about what happened just steps from their home. 

“We’d only been here less than a month after moving from Page when this happened, and this is our backyard pretty much,” he said. “We walk our dog on the same route every day. It’s a constant reminder of what happened.”

Despite saving two lives, the couple does not think that the actions made them heroes.

“I don’t think that what we did was extraordinary,” Kelli said. “I think that everybody has the ability to do kind and great things, and it doesn’t have to be huge. It just has to be something that somebody needs at the time.”

“Even small acts of kindness can change somebody’s life,” Kelli said.

Randy, however, hopes his efforts will serve as a training opportunity for Civil Air Patrol members to learn to use tourniquets in life-saving scenarios. 

“I never thought I would have to use that stuff,” Randy said. “But when the chips were down, it all came back to me, thankfully.”

At an event with appearances by representatives from Rep. Debbie Lesko’s office to the lieutenant colonel of the CAP, it was an appearance by Bain that made an impression.

She walked into the room with her family and shared an emotional embrace with Kelli.

Though the two initially bonded through trauma, they have grown through strength and perseverance.

“We’re really thrilled that the teenagers survived,” Randy said. “It’s also amazing that they saved her leg.”